GINGRICH HAS PALIN’S BACK…. I can’t tell what’s worse, Sarah Palin’s insane “death panels” argument, or the willingness of prominent far-right officials to pretend this is a legitimate attack on health care reform.

During an exclusive debate on health care reform this morning between former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, Gingrich defended Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s recent comments on her Facebook page that Obama’s health care reform would promote ‘death panels’ in deciding euthanasia.

“Communal standards historically is a very dangerous concept,” Gingrich told me.

“You are asking us to trust turning power over to the government, when there are clearly people in American who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards.”

There are two relevant questions here. First, why was Newt Gingrich, the disgraced former House Speaker who was driven from office by his own party 11 years ago, invited to appear as some kind of credible policy expert on “This Week”?

Second, what is Gingrich talking about? We’re talking about a provision in the House bill that would allow Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling sessions on advance care planning. The idea came from a Republican senator, Maine’s Susan Collins, who’s argued that the measure would improve Medicare’s “care for patients at the end of their lives.”

Either Gingrich knows this, in which case he was lying, or he doesn’t, in which case he shouldn’t be spouting nonsense on national television.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.